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Steele's Antics Invite More Eye-Rolling than Eye Opening

Black America Web.com, Commentary, Deborah Mathis Posted: May 04, 2009

Saw a woman on the subway the other day wearing Timberland boots, huge, baggy jean shorts that hit below the knee; a bandana and a cap; and a T-shirt with a likeness of reggae great Bob Marley.

It was not the hip-hop uniform per se, but the womans age that made her look, as they say, a hot mess. She was with her fully grown daughter and granddaughter and looked to be at least my age, 55.

Two questions sprang to mind: (1) Why, sister? And (2) Do you know Michael Steele?

Ever since he won the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, Steele, who is 50, has been slinging slang with abandon. He criticized the stimulus bill for being overloaded with bling. He offered slum love to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose parents are from India, the setting of the Academy Award-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire.

And, last week, on MSNBC, there was this expository on diversity among Republicans: You wear your hat one way. You like to wear it, you know, kind of cocked to the left, you know, because that's cool out West, Steele said. In the Midwest, you guys like to wear it a little bit to the right. In the South, you guys like to wear the brim straight ahead. Now, the Northeast, I wear my hat backwards, you know, because that's how we roll in the Northeast.

It can be charming when an older person tries to sound modern and hip. Take, for example, the octogenarian who once told me, many years ago when the term diss first entered the lexicon, that when she was shortchanged at a department store, she asked for the manager and told him, Your cashier dissed me.

Cute. As long as she left it at that. An occasional foray into a younger generations world is allowable. Building a wardrobe, social habits or a political reputation around Le Hipness is going too far. There is something about old folks appropriating young folks ways that makes you want to laugh, then makes you want to cry, then makes you want to run.

I dont know why Chairman Steele has adopted this persona just as he takes the helm of a major political organization, but if he thinks it makes the RNC more attractive to the young and cool, he would surely be disappointed to learn that his antics invite more eye-rolling than eye opening.

Maybe Steele is overcompensating for a nettlesome unhipness, made all the more distasteful when one notes that last year, Ebony magazine proclaimed Barack Obama, the black man at the pinnacle of American politics, to be one of the coolest brothers of all time.

Steele has already made the mistake of implying that he and the president of the United States are political peers and, of course, they are not so, ineptly, he may have mistaken jive for cool.

There is no question that the RNC needs to be shaken up, but Steele is doing the party no service by flailing around the country trying to prove his street credibility when the party he represents has none.

To everything, there is a season, it has been written. In addition to the proverbial list, may we add: A time to dress ones age, a time to act ones age and a time to talk ones age.

Related Articles:

RNC Chairman in Hot Water Again

Steeles Apology to Limbaugh Troubles Many Blacks

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